In this first month of 2015 I am a walking January cliché. Despite what I said last month about not really being into New Year’s resolutions, I’ve definitely caught the “New Year, New Me” bug. I suppose it’s difficult to avoid when everyone around me is talking about it and living it. But I don’t mind! I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get down to business. 2014 was an amazing year, but it was also a blur and a hot mess due to planning our wedding and honeymoon. I’m excited to ease into 2015 with a slower pace. Read on to find out what the “new year new me” is looking like, as well as some other things I’ve been crushing on this month:
“Foundation” – In the “New Year New You” episode of the Joy the Baker podcast, Joy and Tracy discussed their New Year’s resolutions. A lot of people have been choosing a word to focus on for a year rather than a specific resolution, and Tracy’s word for 2015 is “foundation.” As she described what she had in mind, I realized it was exactly what I have been searching for in my life as well. This applies to my wardrobe (thanks to Unfancy), my workout routine, blogging, taking time off, and deciding what’s important in my life as a whole. I’m trying to figure out a way to live my life that makes time for all the things I’m trying to prioritize, and get rid of all the unnecessary junk.
I love this post by Jessica Hische about how she made a master plan for her work week, or what she calls an “ultra-schedule.” She has “administrative Mondays” for paperwork, schedules in time to work on fun stuff and side projects, makes time for exercise by “jogging to coffee” every morning (I love that!) and going to evening yoga and pilates classes, and even designates which days include “lunch with a book” or “lunch with a person.” I love this woman’s brain. Everything she writes is gold. Here is another great article of hers about how she deals with email, and another about The Dark Art of Pricing.
So I’ve been digesting all of this information, and here are some adjustments I’ve made to my lifestyle in an attempt to create a better “foundation:”
• MEAL PREP – We’ve started using Sundays to plan out our meals for the upcoming week, do the bulk of the grocery shopping, and make sure we’re prepared with healthy snacks as well as any kind of prep we can do for the upcoming meals. (This is heavily inspired by Tracy from Shutterbean as well. Have you seen her #shutterbeanmealprep pics on Instagram? I’m a little obsessed.) We usually pick 3 recipes for Monday through Thursday (with a built-in leftover day for a night when we’re short on time for dinner), leaving Friday open in case we go out with friends or to just use up whatever is leftover. On Sunday we might make a soup or salad for weekday lunches, roast a chicken to be used in upcoming recipes, make a big batch of hummus and granola, chop veggies, etc. As a result of this change, I go grocery shopping less often, use less mental energy throughout the week figuring out what to eat for dinner, eat healthier, and I’ve made more recipes that have been on my “to-make” list. I hope we can keep it up.
• ADMINISTRATIVE MONDAYS – I’m trying to use Monday evenings for all of my paperwork and little annoying things that need to get done. My weekday evening time for working on the blog is very limited, so focusing on all of that stuff on a specific day allows me to spend all of my OTHER evenings working on a specific post (usually the illustration). And if I don’t have “administrative” work to do, I’ll use that evening to work on a blog side project (which are so hard to fit into an already busy blog schedule). I’m taking the time to create a budget too because I want to be smart with my money this year. I’m using spreadsheets to track spending and using PromoCodeWatch to save money.
• LUNCH WITH A BOOK – I used to read novels all the time, but I’m always better at making reading happen if I have a specific time that I can set aside for it. When I worked part-time summer jobs I would read during my breaks, and I used to read during breakfast in high school. Reading before bed used to be a given but now I’m an old person who can spend 0-3 minutes reading before I need to turn off the light. My lunch breaks are also consumed these days with writing blog posts (like this one), reading and commenting on other blogs, or answering emails, etc. So I’ve decided to give myself ONE day a week (Mondays) where I don’t do anything during my lunch break except read. Ideally I’d like to bump it up to at least two days a week, but for now we’re taking baby steps. And it’s working – I finally finished reading Gone Girl (with some extra help from a snow day).
• MORNING WORKOUTS – I recently mentioned that I’ve gotten into the Tone It Up workouts. On Sundays they release a weekly workout schedule for you, which I’ve been trying to follow as closely as possible. I supplement their workouts with some Daily Burn ones, especially for the cardio portions. I like having this schedule … it reminds me of meal planning, except for your workouts. They really emphasize doing your cardio in the morning to jumpstart your metabolism, so I started getting up early to squeeze that in before work. I managed to carve out an extra 30 minutes or so in my routine by setting my alarm ten minutes earlier. I used to snooze for about 20 minutes and then lay in bed on my phone for about 15. Now I put my phone across the room so I have to get out of bed to turn off my alarm, and then I sit up in bed for about 5 minutes, scrolling through fitness Instagram accounts to wake up and motivate me to get moving. It’s a pretty solid system so far. I never thought I would be someone who enjoyed waking up at 5:30 am to workout … but I’m absolutely loving it.
• TAKING TIME OFF – I’ve never been good at doing nothing. If I don’t have a project to work on, I create one. This blog is the greatest example of that. It turns out that it takes up all of my time. Don’t get me wrong – I love doing this – but I’m afraid I’m going to get “blogger burnout.” Plus, sometimes you just need to spend a day sleeping in, devouring a good book and/or binge-watching television (aka not recipe-testing, doing a photo shoot or working on an illustration for hours). So, I’m trying to schedule weekday evenings and some weekends “off” into my blog calendar. It’s hard, though – my first “day off” wasn’t scheduled until the end of this month, and my “Do Nothing Weekend” isn’t until the end of February. As much as I love the job that I am doing, it is important to take some time out for your own health, especially if you do work from home. A friend of mine mentioned to me that if I keep going at the rate that I am, I may need to look into finding life insurance deals. This was quite a scary thought, but this did then make me realise that I would need to take it easy. Self-care is very important, so I need to put myself first sometimes. I’m doing my best to keep that weekend sacred, and hopefully I succeed. There might be an opening for another one in April or May. Do you guys struggle with this, too?
Gilmore Guys – This podcast was my binge-listen of January. If you’re a huge Gilmore Girls fan, you NEED to listen to this. Each episode of the podcast focuses on one (or sometimes two) episode(s) of the show, going in order (obviously). The hosts are Kevin, a hardcore Gilmore fan who’s seen it many times, and Demi, who is watching it for the first time. They are a goofy pair whose friendship has developed mostly by doing the podcast. Both are in the LA film and television scene, so they often discuss it from a critical industry angle (which I find interesting), and they frequently have comedians and actors on as guests. Spoiler alert: some important people associated with the show are supposed to be coming on for future episodes. If you’re going through Gilmore Girls for the first time now that it’s on Netflix, I would hop on board with this podcast. (You can find my other podcast favorites here.)
Songza – I didn’t realize quite how bored I was of Pandora until I found Songza. Am I late to this? I feel like I should have known about this sooner. This app has carefully curated playlists to suit different moods, activities and genres. You can pick from a list for a certain activity or mood (such as “lounging in a cool hotel” or “introspective”), or you can use the “concierge,” which prompts you for what you might be in the mood to listen to. For example, it might say: It’s Wednesday night. Play music for … brand new music, bedtime, driving, working out, stargazing or reading. And then you can pick a subcategory. So it might look like stargazing > on the patio with wine > and then you can pick from playlists like “wistful late-summer nights,” “jazz for the wee small hours,” or “spine-tingling piano serenades.” Isn’t that cool?! I’ve been wanting my music to fit my mood or state of mind lately as opposed to ‘Rihanna radio” or something like that, so Songza is perfect for that.
Frozen GIFs – First of all, I finally saw Frozen. I knew it was supposed to be good, but holy crap I love that movie! That damn Olaf is just so delightful. But more importantly, Robert’s New Year’s resolution was to text more gifs, so he sent me this golden nugget the one day. It just makes me happy. Now I want to conduct all conversations in Frozen gifs only.
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ps – I officially registered for the BlogHer Food 2015 food blogging conference, which is being held in Chicago this November. I’m ridiculously excited about it. Are any of you going? Or thinking of going? I wanna hang out!!!